Knights Come Up Short

WILLIAMSTOWN – Williamstown quarterback Jake Tracewell completed 11 of 13 passes for 120 yards and four touchdowns in his team’s 27-25 West Virginia Class A opening round playoff victory against Wheeling Central on Friday night.

Player of the game? Sure.

Play of the game? Not exactly.

In a two-point game, that went to less-heralded Yellowjackets fullback David Hastings (5-foot-11, 213 pounds), who bulled his way in from the 1 after the Maroon Knights had been flagged for an offsides call with 3:39 left in the game and his club up 25-18.

He had five carries all night. No reason to pound the fullback up the middle.

“We haven’t,” Williamstown coach Terry Smith said, “because we can’t.”

The Yellowjackets had lined up for an extra point, which would have kept it a one-score game. The penalty changed that.

“I told him, ‘we’re going to go ahead and go for 2,'” Smith said. “He said, Coach, am I in?’ I said, ‘Ya. Go get the ball.'”

Hastings, with much resistance from the interior of the Central line, took it in, providing what proved to be the winning points after Wheeling Central kid quarterback Issac Rine directed his club down the field and hit Joe John with a 16-yard touchdown pass with 1:05 left. It was Rine’s third touchdown pass. He was 10-of-16 for 121 yards and three touchdowns, nearly matching the senior Tracewell’s numbers.

“Two points is as bad as losing by 20,” Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said. “But at the same time, we were in the hunt, we were in the battle. I’m proud of our kids. What they did all year is what they did (Friday night). They battled until the end. (Williamstown is) a No. 4 seed for a reason. They must have been pretty good.”

They were, though No. 13 Wheeling Central which sent three captains to midfield for the coin toss (one on crutches, another in a cast) scored first when Rine found Brian Campbell for a 25-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. That capped a nine-play, 76-yard drive that was easily Central’s best of the half.

Williamstown tied it a little than more four minutes late when a blown assignment in the Maroon Knights secondary left Yellowjackets receiver Dakota Watson all alone for a 20-yard touchdown catch.

It was a familiar scene, Tracewell finding the open man after a missed assignment.

It also set up a back-and-forth second half that saw 40 combined points scored.

“Going against Wheeling Central, you have to throw the record out,” Smith said. “We’ve played them so many tough games over the years. Obviously it was.”

Tracewell added three more touchdown passes – one to Logan Lindsey from 12 yards, another to Watson for 28, and a 6-yarder to Neely.

CJ Burch ran for two scores for Central (33 and 4 yards) to keep things close as part of his 27-carry, 153-yard night. After the Hastings 2-point run and with the Knights (6-5) down by nine, Rine directed his club 46 yards in nine plays, connecting with fellow freshman John Burkhalter on a key fourth-down play for 13 yards that would have otherwise ended Central’s season a few minutes earlier. He found John on another fourth-down play for a scpre to get the Knights within two with a minute and some change left to play.

With no timeouts, an onside kick was their only chance. They didn’t get it.

“The kids played hard,” Young said. “Both teams played hard. It’s always been backyard brawl.”

Watson wound up with six catches for 93 yards and the two scores.

“He’s just a good athlete,” Smith said. “He works hard. We just got in a situation where we had time to throw it. The last two or three weeks, teams have just concentrated on Tracewell. Somebody has to step up somewhere.

“That’s what our thinking was at halftime and even this week.”